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Festival of Combustion to Ignite Awe at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

By August 30, 2023October 5th, 2023Press Room
Sparks ascend towards the sky as a metal arts crew creates a performance iron pour in front of a crowd of people with the historic blast furnace behind them.

The 2023 Festival of Combustion to Ignite Awe at the Carrie Blast Furnaces

Rivers of Steel’s signature event expands with more activities, demonstrations, and excitement!


Homestead, PA (August 30, 2023)—Rivers of Steel’s signature event, the Festival of Combustion presented by United States Steel, brings our region’s rich heritage into focus for a spectacle of flame and excitement in the only place hot enough to host it—the Carrie Blast Furnaces.

This one-of-a-kind extravaganza on October 7, from 1:00 to 9:00 p.m., invites audiences of all ages to celebrate the industrial arts and American crafts through hands-on activities, trade demonstrations, tours, live music, fireworks, and more!

“Carrie has become ground zero for the intersection of the industrial arts and American craft that define southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Chris McGinnis, director of arts for Rivers of Steel. “As both a revered historical landmark and place for creative vision, the furnaces are an ever-evolving chimera of industry, culture, and nature—an experience that resonates with all who visit this special site that is so important to our region’s legacy.”

The spirit of the festival takes its inspiration from the iron-making legacy of this National Historic Landmark. Rivers of Steel’s metal arts team will be pouring iron and aluminum throughout the day. Festival-goers can participate by carving their own mold and observing the casting process. This year, a special evening spectacle, entitled Ferrum Lux, offers up a live, site-specific molten iron performance with neon sculpture and electronic sound; it is presented by iron sculptor Coral Penelope Lambert and digital pioneer Paul Higham. Beforehand, flame performers will warm up the crowd as they twirl, dance, and juggle with fire.

The Festival of Combustion goes beyond the molten iron and flames to showcase the creativity and innovation of our region’s artists, makers, and builders in a variety of ways. The day features glassblowing demonstrations, stations for welding, metal fabrication, and more.

Now in its second year, the Heritage Craft Tent presented by Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey, is a festival within the festival that explores American heritage traditions—including the tastiest of all heritage crafts, rye whiskey distilling! Offering tastings for the adults, interactive activities for kids with the Bradford House Historical Association, live art with Touchstone Center for Crafts, along with blacksmith and metalsmith demonstrations, the Heritage Craft Tent is a must-see attraction.

Hands-on workshops allow festival-goers to experience the industrial arts and American crafts for themselves, including two new metalsmithing activities—penny pendants with Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media and embossed ornaments with Contemporary Craft. A mosaic coaster-making workshop is also a new offering. Returning activities include graffiti arts, scratch-mold casting, raku-fired vase glazing, and more kids’ zone workshops.

New this year, Xpogo will provide instruction and free to use pogo sticks for all skill levels and ages.

Craft beer, food trucks, live music, tattoos, and a maker marketplace with regional artisans will add to the festival atmosphere, including performances by Tom Breiding and the Union Railroad, Bindley Hardware Company, and The Shameless Hex.

Experience tours of the Carrie Blast Furnaces. Mini Blast Furnace Tours will be offered throughout the day. Guests are now able to reserve tickets in advance for a $5.00 fee. Those that register the day of can still participate at no charge, pending availability. Guests are also welcome to take a self-guide tour of the Iron Garden featuring the Mini Greens 2 art installation.

To cap off the night, Rivers of Steel will light up the Mon Valley with a fireworks display above the Carrie Furnaces.

Tickets are $20.00 in advance. Admission is free for those under age 18. Live demos, marketplace admission, and workshops are included in the event ticket. For those seeking advance mini-tours tickets, they can be purchased at the same time as admission tickets. Free parking is available on the grounds.

The Festival of Combustion is presented by United States Steel. Additional financial sponsorship has been provided by Knob Creek Bourbon Whiskey, UPMC Health Plan, TMS International, Jackson Welding Supply Company, and Eaton Corporation, with media sponsorship from Pittsburgh City Paper.

For a full schedule of activities and tickets, go to

About Rivers of Steel

Founded on the principles of heritage development, community partnership, and a reverence for the region’s natural and shared resources, Rivers of Steel strengthens the economic and cultural fabric of western Pennsylvania by fostering dynamic initiatives and transformative experiences.

Rivers of Steel showcases the artistry and innovation of our region’s industrial and cultural heritage through its historical and 21st-century attractions―offering unique experiences via tours, workshops, exhibitions, festivals, and more. Behind the scenes, Rivers of Steel supports economic revitalization—working at the grassroots level to deepen community partnerships, promote heritage tourism, and preserve local recreational and cultural resources for future generations.

Contact Carly McCoy at 412.464.4020, ext. 243 or by emailing

Rivers of Steel   |   The Bost Building, 623 East Eighth Ave, Homestead PA 15120